The Ohio State University Buckeyes had a difficult choice to make.
And unfortunately, they made the wrong choice.
The investigation into head football coach Urban Meyer has concluded, and the punishment: unpaid leave until Sept. 2 and a three-game suspension. And to that, I say one word: BOGUS.
I’ll give Meyer the benefit of a doubt; people forget all the time about random events in their lives. But to lie about not knowing that an assistant coach was involved in a domestic violence incident, then confess after evidence shows he knew, is equivalent to a cover-up. And for the university to basically just slap him on the wrist and pretend like this isn’t a big deal? Guess what…it is.
And if you include the bombshell news that the same coach reportedly had adult paraphernalia shipped to the campus, and took indecent pictures while in the White House…any other employee in a management role would have had their keys taken and been handed their belongings in a cardboard box. But, because it is the head football coach at a major university, he is being spared. There shouldn’t be a double standard here.
His tenure at Florida was marred by an inability to keep his team in check, which should have been a red flag for an Ohio State team that had already gone through its own controversy just a couple of years prior. But, ultimately winning trumps everything in college football, and the Buckeyes proved that they were no different. With Meyer at the helm, Ohio State has gone 73-8, winning a national championship and running roughshod in the Big Ten Conference.
Now, let’s relate this to real life here. I worked as a retail service supervisor for nearly 10 years; if I had known that a cashier was stealing and I lied to my boss about it, I wouldn’t have just been fired. We’re talking about a potential fine, and depending on how much was stolen, I could have been arrested as well. Now, what Meyer did wasn’t necessarily criminal, so that would be quite a stretch. But for the university to pretend like this wasn’t a huge oversight, I find that problematic.
It’s not like the school would have had to pay him a huge buyout if they decided to fire him. In fact, the two-year extension Meyer signed in April included explicit language that stated he could be fired for not reporting intimate violations…like the one he was just under investigation for. By firing him for cause, they wouldn’t have had to pay him a single dime of the $38 million buyout. This was Ohio State’s trump card: they could have claimed a moral victory and saved themselves a lot of money.
That Ohio State chose not only to stick by Meyer, but only give him a slap-on-the-wrist suspension, shows a lot about where they truly stand in regards to victims of domestic violence. The right solution was simple: Meyer covered up for a serial abuser, he should have been fired. But Ohio State showed that the truth doesn’t matter…winning football games does.